2012 - Operation Pulo Shield
On 09 January 2012 the special security force in the Niger Delta, the Joint Task Force codenamed Operation Restore Hope has been restructured and is now known as Operation Pulo Shield. Pulo is an Ijaw for oil, meaning the task force is also codenamed Operation Oil Shield. The operational scope of the task force, which initially covers Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers has been extended to covers nine states namely Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Imo, Ondo and Rivers state.
The problems of illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft still remain and loom ominously. Consequently, to confront and eliminate this problem which is responsible for the loss of federal government revenue to the tune of $15.8 Billion, the Defence Headquarters directed the JTF to now focus on pipeline vandalism and associated economic crimes. In this new phase, the mission of the JTF will include, but not limited to; elimination of pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft, illegal oil refining and illegal oil bunkering. It will also cover the elimination of piracy and all forms of sea robbery within its Area of Responsibility.
Spokesman of the Joint Task Force, Lt. Col Timothy Antigha in a statement issued in Yenagoa who disclosed the restructuring added that the composition of the outfit has been expanded to include other agencies such as; National Intelligence Agency, Nigerian Prisons Service, Nigerian Customs Service Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta codenamed Operation Pulo (oil) Shield on 04 April 2013 advised the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to shelve its planned resumption of hostilities as its men had been adequately mobilised to tackle any upheaval.
In light of the rising cases of oil theft in the Niger Delta region, which had been put at about 400,000 barrels daily, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, warned perpetrators to desist or be ready to face the wrath of the Nigerian Armed Forces. He gave the warning on Friday while inaugurating the permanent complex of the Joint Task Military Force codenamed Operation Pulo Shield headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
Badeh lamented that oil theft, kidnapping and other criminal activities were still on the increase in the region despite the existence of an amnesty programme. He said, “Criminalities in the Niger Delta, we thought, have stopped but now they are on the rise again. But I know that our gallant men and women are equal to the task. We are after the bad men; we are good men and darkness can never overtake light. No nation can develop in the presence of so much criminality. Now we are hearing that people are taking up arms here and there; kidnapping is on the rise, oil theft is on the rise, going by the last seizure of a ship loaded with 15,000 metric tons of illegal properties.
“The military was here before and we reached a simple agreement to down tools to work together for the benefit of our nation. We want to tell the criminals that they should not allow us to turn our guns back to the Niger Delta. Please, do not let the Armed Force turn its arsenal on the Niger Delta”.
Badeh said the military had received major platforms and other hardware for the Navy, stressing that naval operatives were stationed in the blue waters. The CDS, who appealed to youths in the region to operate within the ambits of the law, said the JTF had received added capabilities to combat all manner of criminalities in the region.
In his remarks, the JTF Commander, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, stated that the JTF was a product of the defunct Operation Restore Hope, which was earlier established to check criminal activities in the region with headquarters in Warri, Delta State. Atewe pointed out that since his assumption as Commander of Operation Pulo Shield some months ago, the fight against oil theft had witnessed a tremendous boost. He highlighted the destruction of over 1,000 illegal oil refineries, arrest and trial of several suspects, destruction of over 400 smuggling boats, and 20 trucks containing illegally refined products, among others as some of the successes recorded under his watch. Scores of suspects have also been arrested in connection with oil theft, he added.
He said, “The idea to build a permanent complex was informed by the huge amount of money expended on rent by the Command over the years. “May I thank the Chief of Defence Staff for donating 30 gun boats to the JTF and the Bayelsa State government for its cooperation with the JTF. “The new JTF Complex occupies over 8 acres of land comprising of officers’ accommodation, residential apartments for officers and men, sports and fitness centre, medical facilities and officers mess”.
A Federal High Court in Lagos on 18 October 2017 adjourned until Oct. 20, the trial of a retired military commander, Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, and three others charged with N8.5 billion fraud. Atewe, a former Commander of the Niger-Delta Military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, is charged alongside Patrick Akpobolokemi, a former Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, [EFCC] accused them of conspiring to defraud NIMASA of N8.5 billion. The EFCC claimed that the accused committed the fraud from Sept. 5, 2014, to May 20, 2015, in contravention of Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Act, 2012, and Section 390 of the Criminal Code, 2004.
Over N6bn was diverted out of the funds allocated by the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan to the military Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, in the Niger Delta. The N6bn was moved out of the operation’s account into the bank accounts of four companies on the instruction of retired Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Atewe, who was then the commander of the operation.
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